Aug. 18, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There was no shortage of contact work Tuesday morning, when the Florida State football team hit the practice field for the first of two practice sessions.
After spending the first portion of the 2 1/2-hour workout in position segements, the Seminoles tuned up for the team contact work with “board drills” – 1-on-1 skirmishes between offensive and defensive players battling over 2×8.
The second half of practice featured a heavy dose of work on the running game and the play-action pass; a setting that really emphasizes the work in the trenches.
FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who characterized Monday’s practice as a “ho-hum” effort, liked the way his team responded.
“I thought they picked it up a little bit today,” Bowden said. “I thought they responded pretty decently.”
The central figures along those battles are offensive line coach Rick Trickett’s young-but-seasoned unit, and defensive line coach Odell Haggins’ youngsters, behind seniors Kendrick Stewart and Budd Thacker. Sophomore Moses McCray and true freshmen Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister are getting a lot of work, now that Justin Mincey (knee injury) and Everett Dawkins (moved to defensive end) aren’t in the mix.
“They’re getting a good dose of good football,” Haggins said of the youngsters. “Jacobbi’s holding up. Demonte is a little undersized, but he’s coming on. He’s just got to keep focusing. They’ve never done anything like this. When their legs are tired, they’ve got to keep pushing and look into the backfield. They’ve got to keep doing the little things.”
The McTrio – McCray, McDaniel and McAllister – represents the future of an interior defensive front, but could also figure in this year’s effort to improve the FSU defense against the run. All three have the size or frames the coaching staff wants to make in-roads in that area.
“I think we’re gaining on that,” Bowden said. “We’re still not as big and as strong as we want to be, because they’re so doggone young. I do see some good talent out there. … I can see something good to work with.”
“It helps a lot, but I expect them to go out there and play football,” Haggins said. “I know they’re young, but I expect them to go out there and compete hard.”
McCray, McDaniel and McAllister all registered tackles for loss Tuesday morning, flashing their potential to disrupt offenses. McDaniel drove freshman tailback Lonnie Pryor into the ground for a 5-yard loss with a tackle that could have come from an instructional rodeo manuel.
Pryor, however, continued to demonstrate the toughness that has drawn praise from the coaching staff by piling up yardage after first contact. The Okeechobee (Fla.) native broke off one long touchdown run during an inside running drill. Jermaine Thomas added a couple big runs between the tackles.
Tuesday’s practice concluded with the offense going 11-on-11 from the 15-yard line. Quarterback Christian Ponder and wideout Richard Goodman collaborated on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Quarterback EJ Manuel scrambled for 7 yards and Pryor powered for 5, setting up Manuel’s 3-yard touchdown pass to walk-on fullback Danny Gard.
Practice culminated with eight goal line plays. The first- and second-team offenses were each 2-for-2 from 3 yards out, but the defense won all four battles from the 1-yard line. Linebackers Nigel Bradham and Nigel Hard came up with big hits on Thomas and Pryor, respectively. Kendall Smith and Markus White stopped Thomas for a 2-yard loss, while walk-on safety Chad Colley teamed with freshman Jajuan Harley to drop Pryor for a 7-yard loss on the final play of the morning session.
The Seminoles are scheduled to return to the practice field Tuesday evening in shells.